Blennerhassett Family Tree
Genealogy one-name study      by Bill Jehan
   Introduction      Title/Profession      Politicans (UK, Ireland)


Members of Parliament (MP)
in the UK and Ireland
"Knights of the Shire"
In both English & Irish Parliaments counties were represented in the House of Commons by one or more “Knights of the Shire”. Cities, Boroughs and Universities in England were also represented, sometimes by their Provost. Such representatives were all “Parliament Men” or “Members of Parliament” (MP).
<Add here MPs for Cumberland, Norfolk & Suffolk>
The Borough of Tralee in Co.Kerry was from 1611 governed by a Provost and twelve burgesses. Robert Blennerhassett of Flimby, Co.Cumberland and Ballycarty, Co.Kerry, the first of the name to reside in Kerry, was the first Provost of Tralee (1611-1613) and the town's first MP (1613-1623). The second Provost was John Curlestone, who donated to the Church of St.John the Evangelist, Ashe Street, Tralee (Church of Ireland) a stone baptismal font at inscribed with the year he took office, 1623. This font survives as the oldest part of the fabric of the church.
The Great Colonel John
John Blennerhassett (c1691/2-1775), known as “The Great Colonel John”, was the builder of Elm Grove (later renamed Ballyseedy Castle) in 1721. He was MP for Co.Kerry 1709-13, 1715-27 & 1769-75, also MP for the Borough of Tralee 1713-15, 1727-43, 1743-60 & 1760-69.  NOTE: Both [BROWNE] & [BIFR p.141] have him in error as MP for Kerry 1761-68, but it was his son John Blennerhassett Jr who was MP for Co.Kerry in the 1760 parliament, until he died in 1763.

Following the death of his father in 1709 John was elected “Knight of the Shire” (MP) for Co.Kerry in his father's place, being then aged about 17 years, well under the minimum legal age of 21 years for standing as a candidate. He unseated Thomas Crosbie, who had earlier taken his seat illegally (when the High Sheriff of Kerry refused a poll of the voters) then lost it after a petition, signed by a Thomas Blennerhassett & others. On 19-Aug-1709 another petition, complaining of the return of John Blennerhassett “by reason of his infancy”, was signed by another John Blennerhassett and six others, but was not proceeded with.

For many years the senior & the oldest member of the Irish House of Commons at Dublin, he was popularly known as “Father of the Irish House of Commons”, having represented either Co.Kerry or the Borough of Tralee continuously from 1709 to 1775, a period of 64 years spanning the reigns of four sovereigns. His two sons and a grandson were also members of the Irish House.

In 1727 John Blennerhassett signed a dubious “family compact”, with Sir Maurice Crosbie of Ardfert & Col. Arthur Denny of Tralee, that sought to partition the county representation among the three families, themselves & their successors. This unusual agreement lasted only until Arthur Denny died in 1742. A witness to the signing of this document was his brother Thomas Blennerhassett.

Following the union of the parliaments of Great Britain & Ireland in 1800, under the "Act of Union", the family represented Co.Kerry and the Borough of Galway in the combined British Parliament at London.

Following southern Ireland gaining independance from Britain, as the Irish Free State in 1922 and as the Irish Republic (Eire) from 1923, this ancient family tradition of public representation was continued in the Irish Dail & Senate by Senator John Richard Blennerhassett of Ballinorig, Tralee.
Co.Kerry Representation in 1794-1795
Co.Kerry and the Borough of Tralee were each represented by two seats in the Irish House of Commons at Dublin when this unfortunate sequence of events unfolded...
Co.Kerry SEAT 1:
Sitting MP Sir Barry Denny 'the elder', MP for Co.Kerry 1783-1794, died in May 1794.
His seat was taken without opposition by his son and successor, Sir Barry Denny 'the younger'.
Co.Kerry SEAT 2:
Sitting MP John Blennerhassett of Elmgrove, Ballyseedy, MP for Kerry 1790-1794, died July 1794 aged only 24 years. This vacancy created was contested by:
John Gustavus Crosbie of Tubrid  - supported by the Blennerhassett family
Col. Henry Arthur Herbert           - supported by the Crosbie family
“...The strength of the parties was so nicely balanced that the result seemed very doubtful, when, in the course of his canvass, Mr Crosbie took offence at some real or supposed breach of a promised neutrality on the part of the sitting member Sir Barry Denny; a duel was the consequence; the parties met in the demesne of Oakpark, and Sir Barry Denny was killed, being shot through the head at the first fire, and, as was said, by the haphazard aim of a man who had never before discharged a pistol in his life...”
from: “Parliamentary Representation of Kerry” in “The Kerry Magazine”, No.35 vol.3 1856

Following the duel, John Gustavus Crosbie of Tubrid was returned as MP for Co.Kerry SEAT 2 <date?>.

Co.Kerry SEAT 1:
Maurice FitzGerald, “The Knight of Kerry”, took Sir Barry Denny's place as MP for Kerry 1795.
Co.Kerry SEAT 2:
“...within less than a year a vacancy again resulted from the death of Mr J.G.Crosbie, by a fall from his horse, while riding home at night, a calamity which the enlightened populace did not fail to lay to the charge of Sir Barry Denny's ghost...”

Col.James Crosbie of Ballyheigue succeeded to this vacancy in 1795, holding the seat 30 years.

Tralee SEAT 1:
The sitting MP was Sir Boyle Roche, Bart.
Tralee SEAT 2:
The sitting MP was Crosbie Morgell of Mount Morgell (Beechmount), Rathkeale, Co.Limerick.

“...Sir Barry Denny (the younger) had a few years before married his (Crosbie Morgell's) beautiful and fascinating daughter Anne Morgell, then scarce out of girlhood, and her father, a clever, speculating, and, if rumour is to be credited, not over scrupulous solicitor, took into complete management, almost into possession, his young son-in-law, and the Denny estates.

How he intended ultimately to deal with them is now of course only matter for conjecture, but a speedy downfall, and dilapidation of the fortunes of the family, under his control, was anticipated on all hands. A a matter of course, Crosbie Morgell had a seat for his son-in-law's borough of Tralee, and was, it may be presumed, attending his parliamentary duties in Dublin when he received the crushing intelligence of Sir Barry Denny's death. The result may be told in the following extract from Domestic Intelligence of the Anthologia Hibernica for 1795:-

"...Nov. 10th. Yesterday morning Crosbie Morgell, Esq., representative in parliament for the borough of Tralee, was discovered drowned near the first wharf at the South Wall. His hat and umbrella were purposely placed together on the wharf, in such a manner as to preserve them from the incurrent tide. the body was entirely lifeless when brought ashore; of course every attempt to revive it was in vain. He was father-in-law to the late Sir Barry Denny, who lost his life a few days ago in a duel.' On Mr.Morgell's death, his circumstances were found to be greatly embarrassed, and it is supposed that disappointment and desperation consequent on finding the resource of the Denny estates suddenly wrested from his grasp, urged him to the dreadful act of suicide, for his pockets, laden with stones, proved the premeditation of the deed...”.

from: “Parliamentary Representation of Kerry” in “The Kerry Magazine”, No.35 vol.3 1856
Members of Parliament
The Irish House of Commons at Dublin 1613-1800
Each County & Borough was represented in the Irish Parliament, often by two or three members.
A county representative in parliament was known as a “Knight of the Shire” for that county.
Between 1613 & 1795 members of the Blennerhassett family were many times elected to the Irish parliament in Dublin, representing Counties Kerry, Limerick & Fermanagh and Boroughs Tralee & Dingle. Two of the name sat in the Irish parliaments of 1661, 1727 & 1760; three sat in the parliament of 1743.

City of BELFAST                



                        1662-64           Henry Blennerhassett of Crevenish Castle (c1630-1677; N)

Borough of CLONMEL, Co.Tipperary    

                              1692-95             Robert Blennerhassett of Dublin (c1652-1713; R)

                                                Recorder of Cashel; 2nd Justice; Master of the Rolls in Ireland

                                                His Majesty's Prime Serjeant-at-law” 1711-13

County LIMERICK            

                              1703                Robert Blennerhassett of Dublin (c1652-1713; R) as above


Borough of DINGLE, Co.Kerry

                        1695-99           Col. Sir John Blennerhassett of Ballyseedy (c1665-1709)

Borough of TRALEE, Co.Kerry

                        1613-15           Robert Blennerhassett of Ballycarty (c1565-bef.1654; C)

                                                         The first MP for Tralee (also first Provost of Tralee 1611-1613)

                        1634-39           Robert Blennerhassett of Ballycarty (c1565-bef.1654; C) as above

                        1661                John Blennerhassett of Ballyseedy (c1630-1677; C & B)

                                                            His father John Blennerhassett was MP for Kerry in 1661

                        1692                Col. Sir John Blennerhassett of Ballyseedy (c1665-1709; B)

                        1713-15           Col.John Blennerhassett of Ballyseedy (c1691/2-1775; B) *

                        1723-24           Conway Blennerhassett Sr of Castle Conway (1693-1724; K)

                                                            NOTE: Luke Gardiner elected in his place 1724

                        1727-43           Col.John Blennerhassett of Ballyseedy (c1691/2-1775; B) *

                        1727-43           Arthur Blennerhassett of Riddlestown Co.Limerick (1687/8-1758; R)

                        1743-60           Col.John Blennerhassett of Ballyseedy (c1691/2-1775; B) *

                        1743                Arthur Blennerhassett of Riddlestown Co.Limerick (1687/8-1758; R)

                                                            “His Majesty's Prime Serjeant-at-law” 1742-43

                                                            Served this second term only briefly, resigning on becoming a

                                                            Judge in 1743; he was succeeded by Hon.Thomas Southwell,

                                                            who was then unseated on petition by......

                        1743-60           Arthur Blennerhassett “the younger” (1719-1799; B),

                                                            later of London; son of “The Great Colonel John”

                        1760-69           Col.John Blennerhassett of Ballyseedy (c1691/2-1775; B) *

County KERRY

                        1661-66           John Blennerhassett of Ballycarty & Ballyseedy (c1593-1673; C)
                                                He unseated Richard Chute; His son John was MP for Tralee in 1661

                        1703-09           Col.John Blennerhassett of Ballyseedy (c1665-1709; B)

                                                            NOTE: KING (p.263) in error has two John

                                                            Blennerhassetts as MP for Co.Kerry in 1704

                        1709-13           Col.John Blennerhassett of Ballyseedy (c1691/2-1775; B)

                                                            “The Great Colonel John” (who unseated Thomas Crosbie);

                                                            elected 1709 at about the age of 17 years (under legal age of 21)

                        1715-27           Col. John Blennerhassett of Ballyseedy (c1691/2-1775; B) *

                        1751-60           John Blennerhassett Jr of Ballyseedy (1715-1763; B)

                                                (elected 1751 on the death of Sir Maurice Crosbie, elected 1743)

                        1760-63           John Blennerhassett Jr of Ballyseedy (1715-1763; B)

                        1769-75           Col. John Blennerhassett of Ballyseedy (c1691/2-1775; B) *

                        1775-83           Arthur Blennerhassett of Co.Kerry & later of Bath (1731-1810; B)

                        1790-94           John Blennerhassett of Elmgrove, Ballyseedy (1769/70-1794; B)

                        1795-98           Following John Blennerhassett's death in 1794, his seat was taken (in 1795)

                                                by John Gustavus Crosbie who had shot the other Kerry MP,

                                                Sir Barry Denny “the younger”, in a duel...

                                             * = “The Great Colonel John”, “Father of the Irish House of Commons”

 City of Belfast
Sir John Blennerhassett of Dublin & Belfast (b.c1570 d.1624)
“Baron of H.M.Court of Exchequer in Ireland” 1600-24 (Lord Chief Baron 1620-24) 

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